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Article by Mr. K -- "Why are Arcadia products so expensive"


Renato
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Renato, thanks for posting that translation, it was incredibly enlightening! I had no idea how strict Arcadia is with their manufacturers. I doubt that there are many manufacturers out there who have the personnel capable of doing that kind of work within Arcadia's budget. It was also great to hear Mr. K confirm what plagues niche products the most: lower production runs equalling higher MSRP's.

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Mr. K's post is not really encouraging for the future of their company....at this point I am hoping Evolution Toy's VF-2SS is a successful product for them. Perhaps Evolution Toy's has access to better, more efficient manufacturing facilities.....at least they were not apologizing for their prices...instead were just blunt in stating the obvious..."you don't support the VF-2SS, we can't make more cool Macross stuff" It is what it is.... ;)

If Arcadia's end is near...hopefully Evolution Toy (or someone else) can fill the void for "ultra niche" Macross wares....

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This is one informative article. Very interesting.

TL:DR I like Arcadias products and will support them further on but the shortcomings and qc issues are a major bummer for their asking price. Sorry for the lengthy post. I will put it into spoiler-tags so you're not bothered by it.

Reading through the translation I came to the conclusion that Arcadia Valkyries are really high quality. For comparison I want to take the Transformers Masterpieces Ultra Magnus and Star Saber (I love to hate them). Those two toys are also transforming vehicles (one is even a jet that follows a screen accurate transformation) they are bigger than the post-SDF Valkyries and they are incredibly cheap compared to Arcadias offerings (18k Yen compared to 36800 Yen for the VF-0D).

The toys come with various problems that diminish their value as a collectible. For example:

  • Ultra Magnus has huge gate marks on its forearms, uneven applied white paint with plastic showing underneath, and less tampooed detail than the VF-0 Valkyries.
  • Star Saber has the same problem with the white paint, unpainted die-cast, cheap plastic in look and feel (the greasy translucent red parts I despise) and hollow legs; he feels cheap Also the shades of Saber are not sitting correctly.

To be crystal clear I like both toys and I'm glad that I have them. However Arcadias offerings have none of the issues I listed here.

Another point I would like to bring up. Say you rate your collectibles on a scale from 1 to 10. I think that the jump in cost from a level 1 toy to a level 7 toy is less than from a level 7 toy to a level 9 toy. I actually believe that the amount of scrap Mr. K stated in the article is correct. Maybe not for the finished toys but for the parts that are produced during the manufacturing process. If you try to print a matching U.N.SPACY kite over the seam line on the forward fuselage of the VF-0 you probably get a lot of scrap because the two parts don't match up once assembled. Also the mix of different materials on Arcadias toys result in more cost because every type of material needs its own molds.

That said I feel I get my money worth out of Arcadias toys but due to the high costs I'm less forgiving about errors. Stuff like hips that crumble straight out the box and miss aligned intake markings are a major bummer when you pay that much for one item. On the two MP Transformers I just shrug the issue off and didn't even open a ticket with HLJ even if I'd probably have gotten a 25% discount for both of them.

As a side node I would like to bring the spotlight to two other companies. First Bandai. They produce product that is comparable to Arcadias offerings but they have prices that are more easily coped with. But compared to Arcadia they are one of the largest toy companies in the world (iirc in the top 3 with Mattel and Lego). They probably own their own factories in China and pump out much more units than Arcadia. This brings their prices down. Also their Soul of Chogokin offerings are not really cheap either. ^_^

The other company is MMC (my favorite independent toy company). They release grandiose toys but since they infringe the Transformers license they don't have to pay license fees and don't have to consult with the robot designers where Arcadia has to pay Tenjin and Kawamori for their input. One of my personal highlights is their Cynicus toy (aka IDW Vos from the DJD). This is such a lovely transforming toy but it was still around $90 for a deluxe size robot (without shipping). In addition MMC usually has almost no marketing costs unlike Arcadia.

I bring those two examples up because I think that Arcadia is a similar company than MMC but has extra expenses on top so their products will naturally cost more. Unlike Bandai I think that Arcadia produces a labor of love and they want to release the best VF-0 toy in existence. Bandais top priority is to earn as much money as possible.

To bring this post to a close keep in mind that Yamato toys weren't exactly cheap. The VF-19/17/4 where very expensive. Also keep in mind that since the majority of the board members are importing these toys so there are additional costs like custom fees, taxes and shipping as well as a different average income than Japan. My country has a lower average income.

So if we want to discuss the costs of these toys we need to discuss them from a Japanese perspective which is not really possible for most of us.

I want Arcadia to be successful and release more Valkyries so I will support them through purchasing their products. They are some of the best pieces in my toy collection. I hope the high asking price doesn't break their neck because Bandai will never produce a the Valkyries that Arcadia is able to release.

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USD to JPY exchange rate was miserable when the last few VFs were released by Yamato.......so that did not help the "high" prices at the time and corresponding price grumblings.....it's funny how the Japanese collectors are now also whining about prices....welcome to the world of Macross collectors outside of Japan since 1983! ;)

AP073.jpg?v=1412179315

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Good points by Scyla,

it's a tough decision and I don't know what I would do in K's shoes. I would probably back off on the quality and costs and bring it to a Transformer Masterpiece quality/price. It's a risky strategy to go for these super expensive, flawless, low production toys... they are going down a slippery slope... If you were a huge toy manufacturer, sure, you can have a super exclusive run every now and then, it's not your bread and butter. But these guys are walking a fine line here...

Especially when Bandai is being a direct competitor and can afford to offer a similar product much cheaper.

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No one, including Mr. K, is even touching the licensing topic/cost.....for all we know Bandai may have already executed Order 66 and pretty much grabbed all the Macross licenses that matter....except for the Macross Zero license, from which a sustainable toy line you cannot expect to survive long with.......... ;)

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A lot of very good points in here, and while I personally think the amount of scrapped parts is ridiculous, I do have to say that the resulting quality shows in the few Arcadia valks I've purchased.

I think though, while the quality of the products may be phenomenal, people might also be missing the elephant kicking back on the couch.

If the quality control is truly that tight, then why are there so many problems that we see repeatedly?

People like to cry "Bad QC!" when things break, or fall apart, and it's not entirely off the mark, because these issues could theoretically be caught.

But things like limp noodle ankles, loose joints, paint scratches and limbs falling off? When you see them this often, there's a much harder to solve problem.

I truly wonder what the root cause of the scrapped product rate is. What process is so destructive to the end product to cause that many copies to be considered failures?

Are they truly unable to consistently print tampo? Then someone overdesigned the process. This might be exactly why they stopped printing so much.

But what if they're simply over-designing the products to the point that the average assembly worker cannot produce a workable product? How many pieces are left on the floor broken because the parts just failed, or were assembled wrong, and couldn't be fixed?

In short, how many of these issues ultimately work out to just being poorly thought out, or badly designed?

The VF-19 ankles are a mess, as are the new VF-0 hip joints. What went wrong there? And how much paint scratching is really just because parts aren't toleranced correctly, or molded in a color that would simplify the painting?

I don't know. I like to harp on Bandai's designs for being needlessly complex, and it feels like Arcadia is going down the exact same rabbit hole. I would absolutely love them to go back to making designs simple enough that they could sell an unassembled kit, but we're way past that now, it seems.

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No one, including Mr. K, is even touching the licensing topic/cost.....for all we know Bandai may have already executed Order 66 and pretty much grabbed all the Macross licenses that matter....except for the Macross Zero license, from which a sustainable toy line you cannot expect to survive long with.......... ;)

I agree with you, I think it's only a matter of time before arcadia's license for the 1/60 macross toys will expire, when that comes will they be able to pay the license fee or will bandai will step up their game and outbid arcadia.

But if somehow arcadia managed to extend the license, I'm sure that bandai milk try to milk delta dry and probably try a few loopholes by including other period's valk in the new series just like they did with vf-19 advance

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A lot of very good points in here, and while I personally think the amount of scrapped parts is ridiculous, I do have to say that the resulting quality shows in the few Arcadia valks I've purchased.

I think though, while the quality of the products may be phenomenal, people might also be missing the elephant kicking back on the couch.

If the quality control is truly that tight, then why are there so many problems that we see repeatedly?

People like to cry "Bad QC!" when things break, or fall apart, and it's not entirely off the mark, because these issues could theoretically be caught.

But things like limp noodle ankles, loose joints, paint scratches and limbs falling off? When you see them this often, there's a much harder to solve problem.

I truly wonder what the root cause of the scrapped product rate is. What process is so destructive to the end product to cause that many copies to be considered failures?

Are they truly unable to consistently print tampo? Then someone overdesigned the process. This might be exactly why they stopped printing so much.

But what if they're simply over-designing the products to the point that the average assembly worker cannot produce a workable product? How many pieces are left on the floor broken because the parts just failed, or were assembled wrong, and couldn't be fixed?

In short, how many of these issues ultimately work out to just being poorly thought out, or badly designed?

It's because engineering a complex product is a series of compromises. It's clear to me now why we don't see more tampo on Arcadia's offerings -- it would increase the assembly line error rate. A misapplied tampo marking is probably unrecoverable.

No doubt Arcadia could design a perfect assembly line and have complete control over quality. But the resulting cost of the product would be make it inaccessible to all collectors. So what we're seeing is a trade-off between quality and price. If we are to take the tone of the blog post as evidence for Arcadia's finances, even though the cost of their products are high (due in part to the expensive fabrication process), their profit margins are probably incredibly thin.

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I wonder why Bandai did not try to do the VF-0D, didn't it show up in the episode of Frontier about the movie they were making based off of the events of Macross 0?

So totally off topic, but I used to smoke cigs and back in 08 I switched over to electronic cigs (mods). All of the mods that are made in the USA and Europe are very expensive for the originals. Then came along China and they started knocking off the original designs, but could mass produce them using lower quality metals and cheaper labor and the means to mass produce them unlike the USA/Europe based original designers. In that scene people complain that the originals cost too much and then buy the clone stating they are cheaper. But what is actually happening is that the original mfg is actually making a way smaller profit due to the fact that they are using better quality stainless steel or copper and cannot do huge runs like China can due to the cost being more prohibitive and the higher cost of labor and not having access to these giant Chinese machine shops. It seems a lot of people don't get that and still support the fake versions whilst at the same time giving the Chinese mfg more profit based on margin. Personally I just buy the originals to support the creator of the product if I can't afford it, I don't get one.

Edited by Loop
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The more I think about it, especially since the licensing issue has been brought up, the worse it looks. Either way they run (with Macross toys obviously), Bandai will catch them... be it high quality high price or medium quality medium price. Even higher prices won't guarantee flawless products out of the line.

Would getting aqcui hired by Bandai be too crazy?

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This is one informative article. Very interesting.

TL:DR I like Arcadias products and will support them further on but the shortcomings and qc issues are a major bummer for their asking price. Sorry for the lengthy post. I will put it into spoiler-tags so you're not bothered by it.

Reading through the translation I came to the conclusion that Arcadia Valkyries are really high quality. For comparison I want to take the Transformers Masterpieces Ultra Magnus and Star Saber (I love to hate them). Those two toys are also transforming vehicles (one is even a jet that follows a screen accurate transformation) they are bigger than the post-SDF Valkyries and they are incredibly cheap compared to Arcadias offerings (18k Yen compared to 36800 Yen for the VF-0D).

The toys come with various problems that diminish their value as a collectible. For example:

  • Ultra Magnus has huge gate marks on its forearms, uneven applied white paint with plastic showing underneath, and less tampooed detail than the VF-0 Valkyries.
  • Star Saber has the same problem with the white paint, unpainted die-cast, cheap plastic in look and feel (the greasy translucent red parts I despise) and hollow legs; he feels cheap Also the shades of Saber are not sitting correctly.

To be crystal clear I like both toys and I'm glad that I have them. However Arcadias offerings have none of the issues I listed here.

Another point I would like to bring up. Say you rate your collectibles on a scale from 1 to 10. I think that the jump in cost from a level 1 toy to a level 7 toy is less than from a level 7 toy to a level 9 toy. I actually believe that the amount of scrap Mr. K stated in the article is correct. Maybe not for the finished toys but for the parts that are produced during the manufacturing process. If you try to print a matching U.N.SPACY kite over the seam line on the forward fuselage of the VF-0 you probably get a lot of scrap because the two parts don't match up once assembled. Also the mix of different materials on Arcadias toys result in more cost because every type of material needs its own molds.

That said I feel I get my money worth out of Arcadias toys but due to the high costs I'm less forgiving about errors. Stuff like hips that crumble straight out the box and miss aligned intake markings are a major bummer when you pay that much for one item. On the two MP Transformers I just shrug the issue off and didn't even open a ticket with HLJ even if I'd probably have gotten a 25% discount for both of them.

As a side node I would like to bring the spotlight to two other companies. First Bandai. They produce product that is comparable to Arcadias offerings but they have prices that are more easily coped with. But compared to Arcadia they are one of the largest toy companies in the world (iirc in the top 3 with Mattel and Lego). They probably own their own factories in China and pump out much more units than Arcadia. This brings their prices down. Also their Soul of Chogokin offerings are not really cheap either. ^_^

The other company is MMC (my favorite independent toy company). They release grandiose toys but since they infringe the Transformers license they don't have to pay license fees and don't have to consult with the robot designers where Arcadia has to pay Tenjin and Kawamori for their input. One of my personal highlights is their Cynicus toy (aka IDW Vos from the DJD). This is such a lovely transforming toy but it was still around $90 for a deluxe size robot (without shipping). In addition MMC usually has almost no marketing costs unlike Arcadia.

I bring those two examples up because I think that Arcadia is a similar company than MMC but has extra expenses on top so their products will naturally cost more. Unlike Bandai I think that Arcadia produces a labor of love and they want to release the best VF-0 toy in existence. Bandais top priority is to earn as much money as possible.

To bring this post to a close keep in mind that Yamato toys weren't exactly cheap. The VF-19/17/4 where very expensive. Also keep in mind that since the majority of the board members are importing these toys so there are additional costs like custom fees, taxes and shipping as well as a different average income than Japan. My country has a lower average income.

So if we want to discuss the costs of these toys we need to discuss them from a Japanese perspective which is not really possible for most of us.

I want Arcadia to be successful and release more Valkyries so I will support them through purchasing their products. They are some of the best pieces in my toy collection. I hope the high asking price doesn't break their neck because Bandai will never produce a the Valkyries that Arcadia is able to release.

I like how you brought up MMC as an example. 3rd Party companies probably have similar production numbers to Arcadia. But yet their product (these days) are of very high quality with after-sales support ( MMC has been very good with providing replacement parts) and reasonable pricing considering their products aren't even carried by major retailers.

Its my personal opinion that Arcadia should get a new factory ASAP. This factory sounds real dodgy with their excuses. It really isn't asking for much to get the quality required by Arcadia because every other company manufacturing something in China is just as picky if not more so.

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+1

+1 more

I remember learning Japanese and the lessons I downloaded emphasized the modesty commonly expressed. From those lessons, the phrase "Jozu Jarimasen" (or something like that) sticks in my head, meaning "not that skilled yet" , I think.

I could be totally mistaken, it's been awhile

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Thanks for the translation Renato. Having assembled some of the Yamato kits including the SDF-1, Mr. K's not kidding about the added skill/labour needed for builds. That said, I have to agree with everyone talking about getting a new factory. The factory we used to contract with incurred severe penalties for more than 15% scrap rates, and we were definitely smaller than Arcadia. I really feel for him; he's definitely passionate about his work but it just seems like they're fighting an uphill battle. Really curious about the rights issues. As many others have stated, they'd be printing money with a SSP rerelease. I can't imagine that that fact is lost on them...

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I'm wondering what is the cost at each level.

The list price of 1/60 Macross Zero VF-0S Phoenix Transformable is ¥34,800 at HLJ.

What is Arcadia's cut? 17,400 yen? (50% of MSRP)

And how much did Arcadia paid for it? 8,700 yen? (50% of wholesale price)

And what is the factory's cost price? (Very likely the factory is keeping mum, but we can guess.)

Edited by nhyone
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Going out on a limb here...

The suspicion i have on the high prices of arcadia, has nothing to do with cost of manufacturing.

Looking at the resale values of the old yammie's, would you as higher mngt price your new valks at resale value territory or rather cheaper?

Yamato's MSRP and today's resale values are significantly higher.

I think aracadia have figured that the perception of scarcity is powerful indeed. (as reflected in yamato's demise)

Hence they are taking a business risk to maintain a 'luxury' toy at 'luxury' prices.

If they get their QC more consistant...they would have a viable biz model.

The risk here is the world economy, and an aging macross fan base..:p....(hopefully delta would maintain the fan base)

Look at #ForceFriday SW toys are still going strong (and pricey too) due to maintained fan bases...

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In ten years, they just need to sell the CAD design and the diecast parts. The rest, we'll 3D print ourselves.

I don't like the sound of that. Wouldn't that mean we would have to do all the assembly, painting, tampo/detailing ourselves? Plus there's different types of plastics used along with other materials like rubber.

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I don't like the sound of that. Wouldn't that mean we would have to do all the assembly, painting, tampo/detailing ourselves? Plus there's different types of plastics used along with other materials like rubber.

I am pretty sure the comment was in jest, but.... 3d printing is gonna be amazing in 10 years. Some printers can already print with multiple plastics, metal, and rubber. Full color 3d printers have been available for awhile now too.

I would buy an assembly kit at half the cost. Hell, I already know how the Zero's leg goes together...

Edited by ChaoticYeti
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10 years from now with the way 3d printing technology is going and with a collective of talented members here, you could probably CAD design and then print your own mecha including the not so popular ones/ obscure ones that no one made yet.

Edited by wmkjr
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